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I went to Woolies yesterday and was assaulted by, what some may call, the festive season! Crackers, poinsettias, foodie gifts and gift wrap with stars and trees. How is it Christmas next month?

Just like every other before it, this year has flown by.

For me it has been one of the most rewarding, challenging, exciting, scary, humbling, love-filled, wonderful years of my life. The reason for this can only be described as Madison. The curly topped little girl that arrived on 1 September 2022 and changed our lives forever has put things into perspective in a way that nothing else could have.

I used to hear people talking about their kids and what it is like to be a parent as if it was some elite social club that not everyone can be a part of. I would often think to myself, "ok...we get have a child! *eye-roll* "

But it appears that it takes becoming a parent to fully realise why this major life shift is the source of so many meme's, groups, support networks and constant, never ending conversation about what your child eats for dinner or how many times they poo in a day.

It's not an elite social club, it is just fecking hard.

Half the time you are winging it, the other half you are second guessing every decision you have made and then in between you sporadically seek support which only confuses you more and results in resentment of either the person giving you advice or of yourself. And yet, the whole adventure is absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend it.

Talking about seeking support, it has been A WEEK. Last Monday we kicked off at Ethekwini Heart Hospital where we saw 6 specialists with our little Madison. Only 14 months old, she went through test after test after test. Thank goodness she is a flipping tough little cookie.

Accompanying this tough experience were so many special messages of love and support from family, friends and my epiphany community. Many said things like “Madi is so lucky to have such amazing parents”.

Me? An amazing parent? I think they call this “winging it”.

But in all seriousness it’s not Dave and I that are amazing, it’s Madison. Our special little firecracker has taught me more about life in one year than I cared to learn in my first 33.

It is not easy having a child so feisty, so vocal and so unique at the ripe old age of one. She is a mini version of Dave and myself that holds it all, the best and (though we may not care to admit it) the worst of our traits.

And despite all the challenges she has faced she is the happiest little soul . She has taught me that what I thought was important in my life, is actually, absolutely not.

We are taught from a young age to strive for greatness which can come in many forms. Whether it is winning, status, respect, wealth, purpose or admiration that you are after, I find it is in our human nature to continuously focus on being better and wanting more. So much so that we barely take the time to enjoy the present.

We set goals for ourselves, and by the time we achieve them can barely acknowledge that that is what we were after in the first place. When we reach our goal weight, we still want to be thinner. When we come first in something, we want to prove we can do it again. When we start earning our desired income, it doesn’t take long before we want to earn more.

Our sense of wanting is innate.

In the rush of our daily lives, it often feels like “stopping to smell the roses” is a luxury that many of us don’t have, but I am here to tell you that you do have it!

Sometimes we are forced to face challenges, forced to stay put or forced to put things on hold, and the frustration that comes with these moments often clouds the opportunity we have to be grateful for what we do already have.

Having Madi has been an enormous challenge. Her health, our emotions and everything in between have been a difficult time for our little family unit. Anxiety has been running high in our household this last year and when people tell us what great parents we are to Madi it often feels hard to believe. It never feels like we’ve done enough and the worry that comes with the unknown is palpable.

But it is every small moment, every giggle, every hug and every miraculous new advance that Madi makes that makes this journey worthwhile.

Although the last few weeks have been tough with hearing concerns specialists had for our little girl, and then running every test to try and resolve these concerns, I can't help but feel grateful. Grateful for our Madi and her strong willed little nature. Grateful to be so loved by so many people, and so supported by our circle of friends. Grateful for the little kiss that said good night and the hand squeeze that said I love you.

When we get things right, when something wonderful happens and when even the smallest possible bit of good news comes our way, we need to celebrate it. We need to treasure the positives that we find in each new day.

There is often so much we would like to change in our lives that we shift our focus from what we have to what we want. For me as a parent, I feel that one of the biggest gifts I could give Madi would be to teach her the beauty of living in the present. Teach her that being thankful for what is, rather than wanting what isn’t, is far more important for a fulfilled and happy life.

Goals are wonderful. They motivate us and drive us towards a life that we can be proud of, but if we don't slow down and find joy in the present then really what is the point?

So as we approach the season of joy and peace and merriment, I want to remind you to stop and breathe in the smell of mince pies. Savour the moments you spend with friends and family over the next couple of months and shift your focus to all the wonderful things you can be thankful for rather than Black Friday specials and gifts under a tree. Let's make this a season of appreciation rather than a season of want. Because in all honesty, it's the often the smallest things, that indeed hold the most joy.

All my love,

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